Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Turnpike through Oakmont Cc Just Adds to Its Charm

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Turnpike through Oakmont Cc Just Adds to Its Charm

Article excerpt

The characteristics of a challenging golf course, the kind fit to stage the U.S. Open, are omnipresent at Oakmont Country Club.

One trait, however, sets it apart from almost any other major golf tournament venue in the United States - a major highway slicing through the middle of it.

Though it won't make its way onto a brochure highlighting the beauty and difficulty of the course, the Pennsylvania Turnpike is an undeniable presence in the overall layout of Oakmont, effectively dividing the course in two, with holes one and nine through 18 on the west side of the highway, and holes two through eight on the east side.

While far from a defining trait, it's an oddity that makes Oakmont distinct.

"It's a unique feature in that it's there," said Tom Marzlof, a senior design associate with Fazio Designs, a golf course design company, and former president of American Society of Golf Course Architects.

When Henry C. Fownes designed Oakmont and unveiled it in 1903, a half-century before the Federal Aid Highway Act was signed, the idea that such a major road would pierce through the pastoral land was unimaginable, even with a railroad running through the club's land.

However, as part of its expansion into the western part of the state in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the turnpike acquired part of Oakmont's property that ran parallel to the railroad tracks.

The course, surprisingly, was largely unaffected by the turnpike. Perhaps the most notable change that had to be made was moving the eighth hole's green 10 yards to accommodate construction.

"The club always had, since its first day of being open, that cut in the middle of the golf course," said Gerry Hickel, a member of Oakmont's archives committee and the chairman of the club's restoration committee. "When they built the western section of the turnpike, they had to increase the size of that cut."

The idea of a road running through a major golf course isn't completely foreign. Merion Golf Club outside Philadelphia, site of the 2013 U.S. Open, is divided nearly in half by two-lane Ardmore Avenue. Shinnecock Hills Golf Club on Long Island also has a two-lane road cutting through it. …

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